Last weekend it was 80 degrees in the middle of May, and it immediately jump started my family into full summer mode, as we planned all the activities we want to do. Some friends also having visiting friends and relatives coming up this summer, so they are trying to make plans as well. Here are 10 things you absolutely have to do this summer in the Mat-Su Valley:

  1. See Denali. The mountain is breathtaking, and the size just can't be described in words. Your best bet is to visit the town of Talkeetna, where the southern views of the mountain are spectacular. Spend an afternoon wandering around the many quaint shops and restaurants there, or even take a jetboat trip, a flightseeing trip or more. It's a great place to spend at least a day.
  2. Hike the Butte. Located just outside of Palmer, this hike isn't hard, but the views from the top are spectacular. 
  3. Visit Independence Mine. The drive up to Hatcher Pass is gorgeous, and Independence Mine is a very fun way to spend an afternoon. It has the relics from the gold mining operation in the 1930s and 1940s.
  4. Go for a drive, and bring your camera. The Glenn Highway National Scenci Byway is a worth the trip by itself, let alone with the many fun lodges and roadhouses you'll encounter. Or take an extended drive over the Denali Highway. Adventures awaits.
  5. Camp. Whether it be in an RV with all the amenities or a tent in the backcountry, there are great places to get outdoors.
  6. Get on a glacier. Every visitor to Alaska talks about seeing glacier. In the Mat-Su Valley, you can go one better and actually get on them! Matanuska Glacier along the Glenn Highway is the state's largest road accessible glacier, and you can walk right out on it.
  7. Spot a moose. Keep your eyes peeled on your Mat-Su adventures, as there are lots of moose out there. Have your camera ready!
  8. Catch a fish. Calm lakes and raging rivers dot the Mat-Su landscape, giving anglers the opportunity to catch salmon, trout, grayling and more. Consider hiring a guide if you aren't familiar with the area.
  9. Mush those huskies. The Iditarod headquarters is a great place to learn about the famous race, and better yet, you can visit an Iditarod musher's kennel and meet their team and take a cart ride. It's the next best thing to the real race.
  10. Taste the freshness. Alaska Grown vegetables are fantastic, and in mid-summer, you can go to U-pick farm and get the freshest veggies around. Many local restaurants also serve food locally sourced.


The most important thing, however, is to get out and have fun!